Robert Wilson, Regional Officer at ASCL Northern Ireland, comments ahead of tomorrow’s half-day strike action being carried out by the majority of teachers in Northern Ireland.
“Although the Association of School and College Leaders is not taking part in tomorrow’s industrial action, we fully respect the other unions’ legitimate right to do so. While we are sorry that it has come to this, many members will have the utmost sympathy with the teachers choosing to strike and all want to see an end to this dispute as soon as possible.
“This strike has not come out of the blue. It is the culmination of a dispute which began a year ago following the decision to offer a two-year pay offer to teachers which was well below the rate of inflation and which was unsurprisingly rejected by teaching unions. Those responsible for government in Northern Ireland must make it a priority to urgently agree an improved pay settlement.
“Paying teachers inadequately dissuades graduates from entering the profession. Northern Ireland once had a surplus of teachers but it is now becoming hugely challenging to recruit across a range of subject areas. The funding crisis is also contributing to this by increasing workload and forcing teachers to do more with less. The financial settlement for 2022/23 represents a significant real terms cut. To resolve this dispute there has to be both an improved, fully funded pay settlement and an education budget which allows school leaders to plan their finances with the confidence that they will be able to sustain the high level of education that children and young people need and deserve.
“These problems are not unique to Northern Ireland but are evident across the UK. The Welsh government has shown what is possible, putting forward an improved teacher pay offer which resulted in strike action being postponed. It is time for those responsible for government in Northern Ireland to follow in their footsteps.”